More throwbacks this week: Anti-tech flyers have appeared across from Zeitgeist, protesting a proposed housing development that would replace an Oil Changers on Valencia and Duboce.
Actually, that kind of opposition isn’t just on the poster-making fringes – this week supervisors sent a measure to the November ballot that would require developers building on former PDR space to replace most if not all of that space in the Mission and SoMa. PDR stands for Production, Distribution and Repair, and includes small-scale industry and repair services, but also arts spaces like studios.
Two controversial projects in the Mission spring to mind, the first being not new construction but rather a building rehab at the Redlick Building on 17th and Mission that required the artists there to move out of their well-lit, high-ceilinged studios. And then of course there’s the 2000 Bryant Street development, which displaced Inner Mission, the Vau de Vire society, and other artists and creatives. Both either still have or will provide some PDR space, but much of the frustration from the artist community and PDR advocates revolves around the amount, quality, and affordability of that space. Once they’re gone, they argue, those spaces don’t come back.
The measure will be on the November ballot, so you can help decide whether PDR replacement becomes law or not.
Legislating new requirements for new projects is almost invariably met with the opposition that further burdening developers with the city’s problems will discourage anyone from building anything and thereby suppress housing supply, exacerbating the housing crisis. Actually, with June’s Proposition C, which raised the portion of new units in construction that need to be kept below market rate, a big concern was that the city does not know for sure whether a 25 percent affordability requirement would make development economically unfeasible.
A study to answer that question was supposed to come out at the end of July, but has been delayed. Given the complexity of the questions being asked (essentially “Will this kill development?”) the city controller is saying nobody ought to be surprised it’s taking longer to get answers. Developers are waiting anxiously for those answers.
Meanwhile, affordability advocates and development advocates seem to continue to talk past one another. Here’s a column in Bloomberg that essentially says people who oppose the construction of market rate housing are making the crisis worse; affordability advocates continue to argue that they’re all for housing, as long as it’s below market rate.
It’s tricky to get at the heart of all this, because beliefs in how the market works are almost religious and the evidence isn’t totally clear. On one hand, yes, we’ve built a lot more and rents do seem to be coming down (and I keep mentioning that “condo glut” and that prices have slipped on condos). On the other, we just now appear to have peaked on home sale prices when compared to the height of the last boom. And there’s always that pesky detail that even if rents are slipping, that doesn’t mean that adding supply magically fixed the problem. San Francisco remains impossible to live in for people who don’t earn much money whether the monthly rent on a newly listed apartment is $3,600 or $3,400. It’s still way too much.
In business news, the Chronicle reports that a group of mostly Mission-based businesses are hoping to collect data on homeless encampments that will force the city to take some kind of action in addressing the problems that come with living on the street. Business owners say for them, those problems include being injured by needles left on the ground, losing employees or customers who feel threatened by people who live in the encampments, and violence breaking out among residents.
Now, they’re setting out to collect data on these incidents within a private social network, which they will present to the city to spur action. The city says it knows this is a problem and what it really needs isn’t more data to prove it, but a centralized tracking system to help move homeless individuals into the services they need to get off the street.
Near these businesses, another closure: The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen now sports paper-shrouded windows and a sign that says the restaurant, on the corner of 20th and Harrison streets, has been sold. Two locations remain in San Francisco, one at 799 Battery Street and one at 1 South Park.
A little farther south, along the 24th Street corridor, a few newcomers have arrived — among them a new pizza restaurant at 3161 24th Street called Montella’s Pizza. In the few weeks since its opening, the pizza restaurant has already accrued its fair share of rave reviews.